Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV
“It’s my fault,” my husband admitted as we scooped the garbage into a new bag. “I should’ve put a lid on it.” He says it’s squirrels but I like to think something a bit more menacing could cause such a mess, like a Gruffalo. Whatever it was had a big, bad party in the back yard and didn’t clean up. I like to picture them hiding in the trees, paws covering their dirty snouts and chuckling while we schlop their mess back into the can.
Life is full of loose ends, like a giant junk drawer. I think it should be, that a life that’s too pulled together is dangerously aseptic. It’s like the Good Bacteria/Bad Bacteria theory that explains the explosion of super-bugs. We need to be a little dirty. God ordained it. When life gets too spic-and-span, it becomes something incompatible with life on earth. Sterile and phobic, we close the glass door behind us and watch the world go by.
But the other end of that spectrum is the junk drawer that morphs into the junk house. I remember looking at hoarding pictures snapped by a rescue team that extricated a woman from the only space left in her home. Piles of papers, dishes, boxes and broken lamps covered what was once a home. You could not make out where a couch or counter was. She had been consumed by her own mess.
Somewhere in-between lies sanity.
I’ve thought along these lines lately, reflecting on some of my own near-misses, where vanity and self-interest have collided with truth, I mean Truth. Many years ago, as a new believer, I became offended by something my pastor said and decided to go out on strike. I’ll show them.
One week went by, two, three…
Then around week four, as the phone stayed eerily quiet, and the mess from my pity-party was starting to stink, the Holy Spirit spoke these words:
My kingdom goes on, with you or without you.
And I have never missed church since. Was I “right” to be offended? Maybe. But my rights pale in the light of the cross, don’t they? God’s scorching rebuke saved me from derailing and also taught me a lot about my place in His kingdom. It’s not my right, it’s my privilege.
The little foxes will nip right at the root of our salvation. God is nurturing and training our crazy branches into something beautiful and even fruitful, then a little critter called Offense, or Jealousy or Resentment begins to gnaw at the tender vine.
Jesus said He had to go home to heaven so that He could send us all some help. He must’ve known we’d need it. And the Holy Spirit is the Helper. He wants to help us grow and learn and start to teach others. Some dirt, a seed, then water. And lots of light. But we have to be the keepers of our hearts. He will warn, even rebuke but will we hear? And obey?
It should humble any believer to see what was once a healthy, thriving and vibrant Christ-breathed life wilt and die, weeds twisting and overtaking a once powerful testimony. Or perhaps the tender vine was crushed by the newer, prettier replacement – a trophy gleaming in a cabinet, a reminder of what once was.
But all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. Mark 4:19 NLT
Like I said, there’s balance. The critters will get in every now and then and wreak havoc. It’s the rhythm of a corruptible life. If there’s life, there’s the potential for death.
“Search my heart, O God!’ He will. Can we hear Him when He answers? Can we throw stuff away before it starts to stink and draws more rodents?
My theory is that most hoarders knew at one time they should just get rid of stuff, that the stuff they held was beginning to hold them. But they refused. “It’s just a lamp,” you say. “Besides, what if I need it someday?” And the slow death begins.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV
Or sometimes he dresses up like a cute little fox. The point is let’s be watchful, with hearts turned towards the light and ears towards heaven. I don’t want to be a trophy. I want to be just one of His beautiful crazy branches that Jesus delights in, with fruit that bears His glorious name.